AnneMarie Miller discusses ways we can use inconveniences to spiritually prepare for Christ’s birth.
There is a coziness in this time of the liturgical year. Cups of tea are sipped, saints are celebrated. Devotionals are read by the flickering light of the purple candles that stand atop the dining room table. These Advent days hold warmth and joy, a happy longing as we look towards the birth of Christ at Christmas.
In this glowing atmosphere of cookie-baking and present-wrapping, we were suddenly hit with the Gospel reading at Mass yesterday. We heard about a man who was clad in camel’s hair, eating locusts, and preaching about the need for conversion:
John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Mark 1:4)
Yes, just as we were mentally crafting a list of the treats we’ll make to celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, John the Baptist strolls right into our holiday festivity -- and his message isn’t one of warm fuzzy feelings. On the contrary, his life and ministry speak of repentance. From the desert, his voice cries out, calling us to make ourselves ready for the Lord.
As we look to the coming of Christ -- both at His Birth and at the end of the world -- we need to prepare ourselves. We have to take an honest look at our minds, hearts, and lives and root up whatever is pushing us further from God. We need to make changes in our lives that will help us to love God and others more deeply, purely, and wholly.
Advent is a season of hope and joy, but it is also a season of purification. For many of us, life looks different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and I wonder if we could use our inconveniences and sufferings to prepare for Christ’s birth.
We may not be able to participate in a whirlwind of parties as Advent winds down and Christmas begins, so could we instead make space in our lives for prayerful reflection?
We may not be in a comfortable financial place that allows us to lavishly shower our loved ones with gifts, so could we instead focus on the simple, joyful ways in which we can show love?
We may not be able to visit relatives during the upcoming weeks, so could we take the time we would have spent travelling and instead use it to try different Advent prayers or practices as a family?
Let us courageously make time for silent prayer as we reflect on the ways that God is working in our lives. Let us open our minds and hearts to look for the ways in which we need to turn back towards God. Let us bravely see how we can use our altered circumstances to glorify God and dive deeper into the prayer and penance of the season.
Whatever we do, let us look to God with hope and joy, for through all the darkness, His light shines forth.
Copyright 2020 AnneMarie Miller
Image: Pixabay (2014)
About the Author
Eagerly seeking new adventures each day, AnneMarie enjoys life in Oklahoma with her husband and little boy. She has a passion for the Faith and particularly loves learning more about the Liturgy, saints, and various devotions. AnneMarie’s musings on Catholicism, literature, and motherhood can be found on her blog, Sacrifice of Love.